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Tokyo Legoland Discovery Center apologizes for blocking deaf patrons from theme park

16 Comments
By Katy Kelly, SoraNews24

With eight flagship parks worldwide, Legoland is one of the top pit stops on any budding architect’s childhood wish list. Japan sports its own main Legoland in Nagoya, but there are also indoor editions of the park: “Discovery Centers”, which you can visit in Tokyo or Osaka. The park is studded with architectural attractions: there’s multiple rides, visitors can design, build and race their own Lego cars, and even leap and bound through ninja-tastic Lego backdrops.

For Niigata-based teacher Tsuyoshi Abe, who is deaf, it was the perfect place to take his son and daughter for a day out. However, he reached an unexpected blockade when he, his two children and a family friend tried to enter the park on April 21 of this year. The employee staffing the entrance called the four of them back, demanding to know if any of them could hear. Mr Abe was then informed in writing that theme park policy requires any disabled guests to have at least one accompanying, able-bodied support guest. As all four of Mr Abe’s party couldn’t hear, the staff explained, they were unable to grant them access to the park.

According to the policy written on Legoland Discovery Center Tokyo’s website, the reason they don’t permit entry is because without an accompanying guest and all-deaf party wouldn’t be able to hear the disaster alarms and so the park would not be able to guarantee their safety.

While this would be upsetting enough for anyone in this situation (the man’s children reportedly asked why all the other children could play inside when they couldn’t), Mr Abe was very qualified to tackle this injustice directly. As a teacher for the deaf, and a representative for children’s support groups at his school, he took it upon himself to reach out to the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, who took the issue straight to the government.

Thankfully this story has a happy ending: the courts found that refusing a disabled customer access to a store, park or service without a helper violates the Act for Eliminating Discrimination Against People with Disabilities. June 13 saw the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry formally request the company to “work hard to better understand the law and implement changes accordingly”. A formal apology from Merlin Japan Entertainment representative Peter Lee followed, so hopefully from here on out parents and children will be able to attend the park without any issues.

This issue has become a hot topic on the net, with users wondering “why couldn’t a member of staff just accompany the family?” and pointing out “surely you don’t need to be able to hear to notice a disaster: if everyone around you is running, then you run too – it’s not like the park is even that big.” Many users noted that as the party were able to come to the park in the first place, there should have been no problem with them navigating the park alone.

Of course, as with any controversial topic there were people arguing the opposite as well: “Why should the company have to apologize just for guaranteeing people’s safety? This is just a modern day witch hunt.” Multiple users considered the issue of responsibility – “if something bad were to be happen, would the family take responsibility or would they push blame onto the people who permitted them, I wonder?”

Considering the rough and rocky start to business the main Legoland park has endured, you would think that the park would be eager to get as many guests through the doors as possible.

Source: JIN, Asahi Shimbun, Legoland Japan

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan is getting its first full-scale Legoland amusement park

-- Legoland Japan celebrates first anniversary with world’s largest LEGO cherry blossom tree【Video】

-- The Great Obon Disaster: A fable of cicadas, dancing, and cats

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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I think that it is a difficult problem. I think that discrimination is not good. There is no such a person who wants to be born with a disability. I think it is a good idea to let them in because they are handicapped. However, it is not impossible to understand why the Legoland staff refused. It is possible that if a disaster occurs, they will not notice it and fail to escape, so I think it is very dangerous. I think it is good to create an environment where people with disabilities can play safely. I hope not only Legoland, but also other places don’t discriminate against people with disabilities.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@waka. My friend is deaf, her mother is deaf (solo mother)...and...believe it or not, their dog is deaf.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To the people who defend this, you want to cancel the 2020 Paralympics? I doubt it -- you'd be seen for what you are. There is zero reason why they would be denied, even with the flimsy disaster announcement. What disaster are they going to miss with their other senses that could be big enough to put them in danger? And hey, the staff didn't take into account that if terrorists carried out a sonic attack and disabled everyone, this entire family alone could save the day! I mean... that's the kind of logic they use to deny people.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Asian regional manager really has no clue of how things are run here, they visit for a short time and believe everything the brown nosing GM and HR tell them.

Visit? My friend was the HR here of the one in Osaka and only had skype meetings with the managers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good headline.   Lego "blocking" these people.

Didn't realise was possible for whole families to be deaf - some form of genetic cause?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Paraolympics coming, these stories will be everyday News.

know I guy who bas played with Lego since a baby and was refused entry. Reason is, no single men can enter.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

That really is the stupidest excuse I've ever heard for denying entry. By that logic, deaf people could be barred from entering any public building since they wouldn't be able to hear the fire alarm.

Thankfully this story has a happy ending: the courts found that refusing a disabled customer access to a store, park or service without a helper violates the Act for Eliminating Discrimination Against People with Disabilities. June 13 saw the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry formally request the company to “work hard to better understand the law and implement changes accordingly”

This is absolutely not a happy ending. This was an abusive form of discrimination, they shouldn't just be allowed to get away with it after facing nothing more than a polite request from METI to try and do better next time. They should be facing penalties and lawsuits, otherwise they have no incentive to take the issue seriously.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

witch hunt

I don't think people understand what a witch hunt is.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These kind of things never happened before Merlin Entertainment group merged with the original Denmark creators and owners of Legoland. They're an investment group out of the U.K. and though they own many theme parks around the world, they're more conserned about money & liability than family fun.

Almost all of the floor employees are very nice and hardworking, including some office workers, they were only doing what they're told to do by their bosses.

The Asian regional manager really has no clue of how things are run here, they visit for a short time and believe everything the brown nosing GM and HR tell them.

Fortunatly this situation is only unique to Japan LDC and will now change but the same people responsible for these policies, will likely remain in their job positions with just a slap of their wrist.

Legos really are nice products, something constructive & creative for children, without requiring wifi. I hope the original Lego Denmark is able to continue buying back their company and restore the brand to what it was.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Kniknaknokkaer, very good suggestion.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The term we're looking for here is compliance:

In general, compliance means conforming to a rule, such as a specification, policy, standard or law. Regulatory compliance describes the goal that organizations aspire to achieve in their efforts to ensure that they are aware of and take steps to comply with relevant laws, policies, and regulations.*

*Interpretations may vary in Japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Just have an employee guide them. What a moronic conclusion to something easily solved."

Are you kidding? That would require someone to think on their own. They have rules. Rules MUST be followed. In the time it probably took five people to sit around and discuss this. Go over the rules. Find someone else to write down what one person was saying while the manager oversaw everything, this is exactly what they could have done. Just have an employee accompany them. Rule following in Japan is often so insane that it seriously become a negative thing. "When we blindly follow, we stop seeing opportunities. We stop seeing inefficiencies. We close ourselves off to “a better way of doing things.”

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Insensitive, to say the least. Instead of saying we’re sorry to be ill-equipped to support all kinds of people in an emergency, they basically said those not fully able bodied please don’t enter the store. That’s what happens when your head is shoved far into trying how smart as a manager you are, that you miss an excellent opportunity. This was an excellent opportunity to be popular with differently abled kids.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Thankfully this story has a happy ending: the courts found that refusing a disabled customer access to a store, park or service without a helper violates the Act for Eliminating Discrimination Against People with Disabilities. June 13 saw the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry formally request the company to “work hard to better understand the law and implement changes accordingly”. A formal apology from Merlin Japan Entertainment representative Peter Lee followed, so hopefully from here on out parents and children will be able to attend the park without any issues.

No this is not a happy ending, it should be just the beginning! Legoland should be aware of the law, per their business, and they took steps to ignore it!

They are lucky Mr Abe took the less litigious route and they owe him more than just an apology. Lego needs to have their employees take some time on training so they know better how to serve their customers.

Not to mention it's a slap in the face to Mr Abe to just have a representative "apologize" the president should be the one who did it!

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Just have an employee guide them. What a moronic conclusion to something easily solved.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

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